Welcome back to This Week In DVD! A wide range of movies are hitting shelves today, but the two best releases happen to be television series including HBO’s Game of Thrones and my pick of the week below. On the movie front we have the fantastic racer doc Senna, the surprisingly funny indie comedy High Road, Pedro Almodovar’s twisted thriller The Skin I Live In, Adam Sandler’s latest abortion Jack and Jill, and more!
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
A boy and his dog spend their days playing in the world of their imagination, and the result is some gloriously effed up adventures. I make no apology for loving this show. It’s like swallowing a sugar-filled grenade that explodes in your head over and over again throughout each episode’s eleven-minute run-time. Everything about the show is free-flowing and utterly weird, from the animation style to the humor to the stories themselves. This DVD features sixteen episodes including the Emmy-nominated “Nightosphere.”
Pitch: Judging by the sheer amount of doggie-style sex happening throughout this kingdom winter isn’t the only thing coming…
Why Buy? The king of Westeros asks an old friend (Sean Bean) to come serve by his side, but the politics and machinations of the various families of power throughout the kingdom lead them all inexorably toward war. And let’s not forget the darkly magic menace from beyond the great wall that may beheading their way as well. HBO’s ten-episode adaptation of George RR Martin’s first novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series is a visual and dramatic feast of treachery, combat, sex, and more treachery. I’m not much of a fantasy fan in general, but the show’s depth and care given to its myriad characters make for a constantly surprising and fascinating show. Amidst the many great characters/actors, Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys, Maisie Williams’ Arya and Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion are the three most consistently endearing and engaging. They’re also the shortest.
Pitch: “There better not be any Gary Glitter shit going on…”
Why Rent? A drummer in a band sees said band disintegrate shortly before his amateur dope dealing business gets him fingered by the cops. With no place else to turn he runs off with a teenage boy to Oakland in search of his father. This comedy is reportedly a mostly improvised affair, and that fact is visible in some of the exchanges. And that’s not a diss, as there are some very funny conversations here. The main character and story are fairly meh, but the supporting cast (Abby Elliott, Lizzy Caplan, Horatio Sanz, Joe Lo Truglio, Rob Riggle and more) makes this a worthwhile watch.
Pitch: As rodas do carro para ir ronda e ronda…
Why Rent? Ayrton Senna was a champion Formula 1 race car driver through the 80s and 90s and a great personality on and off the track. This doc takes a look at his life throughout that time and highlights his interactions with other drivers and the sport itself. It also offers a glimpse into the man’s drive and motivation. Asif Kapadia’s film charts Senna’s life chronologically as he races towards the inevitable, and it presents him as a charismatic and extremely talented figure. The doc is both energetic and dramatic and a fantastic watch.
Pitch: Is rich, Corinthian leather-like skin…
Why Rent? A young woman spends her days in a sparsely decorated room wearing a form-fitting body suit and practicing yoga. Any potential for voyeuristic sexiness is thrown out the window though when it’s revealed that she’s an experiment in progress under the watchful eye of Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Bandaras). But who she is and why she’s there will be the biggest revelations of all. Or not. Director Pedro Almodovar’s latest is a horror film of sorts about identity, affection and gender politics, and while it’s a little obvious at times it remains a beautiful and engaging film. It’s also a much needed reminder that Bandaras can in fact act.
Pitch: Not to be confused with the Magellan Trapezoid…
Why Avoid? An agoraphobic woman with a hidden past gets drawn into a deadly mystery when a neighbor is murdered and a bombastic couple move in next door. The setup here is fairly interesting, but the revelations and twists are stupidly predictable. Even more damning are two big and inexplicable plot points. But check out this cast… Selma Blair, Beau Bridges, Robert Guillame, Jason Lee, Kevin Pollak, Giovanni Ribisi, Amy Smart, and Jerry Penacoli! The Jerry Penacoli you ask? Yes! Skip it and watch Copycat instead.
Pitch: Went up a hill and released a shitty movie…
Why Avoid? An annoying husband/father (Adam Sandler) lets his inexplicably identical and even more annoying twin sister (Adam Sandler) visit for the holidays, but when it refuses to leave unfunny hijinks ensue. To be clear, I’m not a Sandler hater. The guy can act when he wants to and he’s made at least one great comedy (The Wedding Singer), but he too often settles for lowest common denominator humor. The jokes are lame, the gags are obvious, Sandler’s Jill voice is grating and when the best thing about your movie is the presence of Katie Holmes you know you’re in trouble. (And I like Holmes!) Skip it and watch Dead Ringers instead.
Pitch: Billy Zane! Is only in five minutes of this…
Why Avoid? A quartet of mercenaries is tasked with rescuing a US ambassador and capturing the leader of an Eastern European coup. Billy Zane appears briefly early on here, but his presence is a tease as the action shifts away from him towards some far less charismatic characters. The soldiers on both sides are generic and forgettable… as is the action. And that’s the real issue here. A good action movie can exist with bland characters, but the gunfights here neither exciting nor well choreographed. Skip it and watch Tears of the Sun instead.
Pitch: You might be a redneck if your Halloween pumpkin has more teeth than you do…
Why Avoid? Haven’t seen this one, but I have zero qualms about telling folks to avoid it. The first Tooth Fairy film was a lackluster effort even with the charismatic powerhouse that is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, so can you imagine a lower budgeted, straight to DVD sequel focused on Larry the Cable Guy being any better? No. Neither can I. Larry is a comedic sinkhole in movies as evidenced by anything he’s ever touched. Skip it and watch Marathon Man instead.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
The Search for One-Eye Jimmy
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What are you buying on DVD this week?